The Friendship Paradox


Thirteen years ago, I graduated from high school, and my confession is this: I only actively communicate with one friend from the first 18 years of my life. 

When I was younger, someone told me that the older you get, the more you will long for the people who knew you when you were young. I couldn’t agree more and, in recent years, have found myself missing those childhood friends.

To where, then, do they disappear?

They go to college.

They invest in romantic relationships.

They pursue professional opportunities.

They have children.

This is the secret held by the other side of adulthood: Friends don’t keep.

On many days, I am pulled in at least five different directions trying to ensure my children have healthy social lives. I want them to learn that they must share and cooperate with other little people in this life. And, quite selfishly, I want them to have friends.

Then, of course, my logical mind activates. Will my efforts matter? Won’t they make their own friends? And will we even live here in five years?

I think the root of my futility is, quite simply, my own isolation.

If you are a parent, this friendship conundrum is nothing new. Relationships are essential, yet incredibly difficult to maintain. Your hours and days are lost in your work and your children, and I think we all can agree that this investment, at least for now, should trump our own desires. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

If I want to call someone, for example, I must (1) pry my phone from persistent, chubby fingers and (2) remove the slobber. By the time I have completed these actions, my second child, the one who isn’t enticed by a black screen, demands my attention. What was I doing again?

Do I think it’s impossible to have friends in parenthood? No, but your expectations must change. In this season, the one that feels so endless, you are not going to stumble across people who saw you win the fifth grade spelling bee or even care to know such information.

What you will find, however, are islands desperate for human connection. Some may be more openly eager than others, but we are all drowning in a sea of commitment.

My advice? Don’t take on your child’s social life as your own, and when you meet a fellow parent who is willing to admit that they, too, are unlearning, hold onto them with both arms.

And, rest assured, they will return your call when they finally locate their phone…and their mind.

::today’s daily inspiration::

3 thoughts on “The Friendship Paradox

  1. Pingback: The Friendship Paradox | younmeweb

  2. Brooke Stewart

    I’m childfree. Most of the time, my friendships with women who become mothers don’t last because I don’t want to be around sanctimonious types who make snide remarks about my choice. Sometimes they are jealous because my husband and I have far more freedom and disposable income than they do. I’m not one of those militantly childfree women who hates kids so I don’t understand where the condescending nonsense comes from.

    Ironically, my former mommy friends became more self centered; they expected me to drop everything for them and their children yet they did not return the favor for me. I certainly was not going to participate in a one sided friendship because I didn’t like to be used.

    I have a couple of mommy friends who are wonderful. They are respectful of my decision and they are also secure in their choice to become mothers, so they don’t feel the need to insult me or diminish the path I have taken in any way. I enjoy spending time with their sweet kids who love me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, even those of us who are mothers can’t escape the sanctimonious mommies, but I grieve the fact that your decision to remain childfree has impacted some of your friendships in negative ways. I had children later than many of my friends, and I, too, felt the tension you mention. Frankly, it almost made me never want to have children.

      Friendship is a delicate balance and children complicate every aspect of life, but that doesn’t give any of us a free pass to exploit or neglect people we love. I wrote this post over a year ago, and my children are now 2 and 4. I feel like my head is finally emerging from Babyland. I haven’t been an amazing friend in these first years of parenthood, but I pray that I’ve held on enough to remind people that I still love – that I still care.

      I think children are another layer of the friendship test, and I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found some good ones – mothers and non-mothers alike – who support your journey. And, whether they ever share with you or not, they are better because of your insights.

      Thank you for sharing.


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